Berdoulat founder Patrick Williams and his wife Neri are the custodians of one of Bath’s most beautiful shops. The interior designer, collector and restoration specialist tells Eleanor Cording-Booth about his greatest find and the very unusual object he’ll keep forever.




Patrick Williams grew up in rural France in a house called Berdoulat, which later became the name of his design practice and homeware emporium in Bath, England. After four and a half years of meticulous work, Berdoulat – within an 18th century building just off the city’s famed Royal Crescent – is one of Bath’s most treasured shops. The couple are now on the lookout for another restoration project nearby, where they will house the design studio and shop in the future.

My greatest find: A stool from Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation

“My greatest find was a little velvet stool from Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953. To help fund the event, guests in the congregation were given the chance to buy their stool as a memento. Neri and I came across it by chance when we were collecting a desk we’d bought on eBay. We drove down this little farm track in the middle of nowhere and ended up at an old warehouse that was quite spooky as we were there for a while before anyone actually emerged.

Anyway, we picked up the desk as planned and as we were moving it into the car, I noticed various interesting bits and pieces dotted around the warehouse. The owner told me to have a look and said if there was anything else I wanted, he’d do me a nice deal. One of the pieces was the coronation stool and I recognised what it was, so I said to the guy, “how much for these things?” and he went around giving figures for each item, followed by “oh and the piano stool is ten quid”. I feel a little bit guilty that I didn’t stop him and tell him what it was, but I didn’t.

In the car on the way back up the track, Neri and I just looked at each other and burst out laughing. We really cherish it, not only for that moment and the way we found it, but also because it’s a beautiful bit of design by Edward Barnsley. There’s a lovely arc to the seat and it still has the original velvet on it, which I would never change and I pray the moths don’t get to! We keep it in our living room at home and we do actually use it as a piano stool.”

The piece I’ll keep forever: A jar of dust

“The item I’ll keep forever is a jar of dust labelled ‘Véritable poussière XVIII ème (ciel de lit)’, which translates as ‘Real 18th century dust (four poster canopy)’. It was collected especially for me from the ceiling canopy of an 18th century bed and it was a 30th birthday gift from our dear family friends, Didier and Sylvette.

The couple run an antiques shop called Un Coin Du Passé in the Gers region of France where I grew up and they were very much the inspiration behind what we do at Berdoulat. They do house clearances and when they saw all this dust on the bed, they thought ‘oh Patrick will love this!’, so they scooped it into a little jar for me.

Didier actually uses the dust that he collects to tint wax for when he’s restoring old furniture. It’s a very beautiful colour – almost a mauve purple – and it’s so random but a real treasure for me and I’ll keep it until I go to my grave.”

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